Review: A Poem for Peter

A Poem for Peter
A Poem for Peter by Andrea Davis Pinkney
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Just a whoosh of goosebumps and emotions when I opened this book.

I remember reading The Snowy Day. When I was small, I loved Peter. I loved that Peter lived in an apartment building, like I did. Picture books always had houses, with windows two up and two down, daisies out front, and a dog in the back yard. No one I knew lived like that. I didn’t learn to identify any flowers until I was an adult, and we weren’t allowed to have pets. Keats showed my world, and I was grateful. It was not until I was an adult that I learned how unusual and important it was that Keats’ main character was an African-American child. (I certainly didn’t know that Keats was Jewish and that his family were Polish immigrants.)

Told as a poem-letter to Peter, this book is beautiful and informative. It tells a story about having talent and a dream, of wanting your work to feed souls as well as your belly, and about how kids who have teachers and parents who see their spark and kindle it have a chance to become what they dream of being.

I was in tears by the end of this short book. Given the rhetoric of our recent election, children need to see all kinds of kids on the page, even if (maybe especially if) they do not see one another in their neighborhoods.

Part of me wanted to keep this book for myself; I knew it needed to go into the circulating collection of our public library. (Thank you, YSBR.)

The audience for this book is slightly older than the usual picture book crowd. It could be used in elementary school story times with Keats’ other works, especially those discussed in the poem, as part of an author study.

For upper elementary students, the book provides an introduction to some major historical names and events of the past century: Great Depression, Art Students’ League, WPA, racism, and anti-Semitism – Concepts they can investigate further.

I would also recommend this for people new to collection development, and for anyone who wants to be bolstered up in their conviction that it is important for our collections to be reflective of the wider populace.

View all my reviews


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